More than a dozen celebrity chefs from across the country came together for one special night in Chicago to honor the life and legacy of renowned Chef Charlie Trotter. "A Toast to Charlie Trotter" benefited the Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation (CTCEF) founded by the late chef in 1999. Chef Emeril Lagasse served as emcee at this sold-out event at Venue One on November 5 with more than 200 guests.
Chefs in attendance, besides Lagasse, included Patrick O’Connell, Washington; David Bouley, NY and Chicago chefs Rick Bayless, Paul Dubroski, Graham Elliot, Gale Gand, Kevin Hickey, Michael Kornick, Matthias Merges, Tony Montuano, Ryan Pitts, Art Smith and Jacob Neminarz. The chefs prepared dishes inspired by Trotter and paired with cocktails created by Chicago’s top mixologists. Wines were selected by some of Trotter’s former Master Sommeliers led by Serafin Alvarado and Larry Stone. Cocktails were also offered from The Sportsman’s Club and sweet treats from Sugar Hills Bakery.
Guests mixed and mingled amid decor reminiscent of a chic South Beach club with white leather lounges, sparkling lucite cocktail tables and hot sounds from DJ Mother Hubbard, the same DJ who played at the Trotters' wedding reception.
Rochelle looked stunning in a tomato red and gold "high-low" cocktail dress with beautiful embellishments created by local designer Azzeez Desai Khan (AZZA Atelier). This was the last dress the late chef bought for his wife as a surprise to wear to the Service Club of Chicago Gala. Sadly, he passed away two days before the event. Rochelle thought it fitting to wear this dress in his honor at the event since he advocated supporting local talent.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel (who grew up with Trotter) and Chef Lagasse offered welcoming remarks. "Charlie Trotter has grabbed hundreds of hands and pulled them through the doors of opportunity. Hundreds of children and hundreds of chefs' dreams have been made possible because Charlie Trotter had a spirit larger than life and there's no better city to have had him call home than the City of Big Shoulders," said Emanuel.
Chef Lagasse' toast brought laughter from the crowd when he said, "I know Charlie's in a big wine cellar in the sky probably drinking a magnum of Caymus right now, so here's a toast to my dear friend Charlie Trotter."
The Charlie Trotter’s Culinary Education Foundation kicked off a year-long campaign in January 2014 with a Chef David Bouley Tribute Dinner in collaboration with the James Beard House in New York City. Since then, special fundraising events have taken place each month across the country to raises funds for CTCEF that awards need-based scholarships to students who are seeking careers in the culinary arts.
"Chef Trotter understood how important it was to learn and through all of his efforts, he has inspired a nation of talented chefs. There not a fine dining restaurant in America that doesn't have a Trotter alum," remarked Chef Art Smith. (Additional photos by Marcin Cymmer).
To learn more about the Chef Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation, please click here.
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Tags: A Toast to Charlie Trotter, Art Smith, Charlie Trotter, Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation, David Bouley, Emeril Lagasse, Gale Gand, Graham Elliot, Jacob Neminarz, Kevin Hickey, Larry Stone, Matthias Merges, Michael Kornick, Paul Dubroski, Rick Bayless, Rochelle Trotter, Ryan Pitts, Serfin Alvarado, Sportsman's Club, Tony Montuano, Watch312.com